Intel NUC 11 Extreme Review - Ultra-Compact High-End Gaming NUC

Unboxing & Size Comparisons - This is a small gaming PC

Intel NUC 11 Extreme Review - Ultra-Compact High-End Gaming

Unboxing & Size Comparisons - This is a small gaming PC

Intel supplied our NUC 11 Compute Element within a large wooden box, giving us an enjoyable, albeit unusual, unboxing experience. On this box was Intel i9 and Intel NUC logos with "Engineered to Win" emblazoned on both sides of the box. 

While real-world consumers won't be supplied with packaging like this, these marketing efforts highlight Intel's seriousness about their NUC ecosystem and their NUC 11 Extreme "Beast Canyon" units. 
  

Intel NUC 11 Extreme Review - Ultra-Compact High-End Gaming  

Undo a latch and pull out a drawer, and we have Intel's NUC 11 Extreme Compute Element, a highly compact barebones system that can be optimised to suit the needs of many use cases. 

For scale, we pictured Intel's NUC beside a standard 330ml can of Coke, which should give some much-needed scale for this small form factor system. Intel's new NUC measures in at 357mm x 189mm x 120mm, which means that this PC takes up barely any desk space, which is great news for anyone who works or games in a smaller room. 


Intel NUC 11 Extreme Review - Ultra-Compact High-End Gaming  Intel NUC 11 Extreme Review - Ultra-Compact High-End Gaming
  
Intel's NUC 11 Extreme Kit may not be the smallest system available, but it offers an excellent balance between size and versatility. This case can support full-length graphics cards, up to four M.2 storage devices, 64GB of memory and full upgradability with Intel's NUC Extreme Compute Element cards. 

While this form factor has its restrictions, this NUC doesn't have a dead-end upgrade path. 


Intel NUC 11 Extreme Review - Ultra-Compact High-End Gaming
  

Below we can see the rear I/O of Intel's NUC 11 Extreme kit, which supports two Thunderbolt 4 ports, 2.5Gb Ethernet, HDMI 2.0b, and six USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports. On the unit's right, we have the rear I/O of an RTX 3060 graphics card, which Intel supplied with this review unit. The system's GPU I/O will differ depending on your chosen graphics card. 

Intel NUC 11 Extreme Review - Ultra-Compact High-End Gaming  
As another size comparison, we have set Intel's new NUC 11 beside AMD's reference RX 6800 graphics card, a GPU that can comfortably fit inside the NUC 11 Extreme. 

Being 270mm long, this graphics card isn't exactly short, but we had no trouble installing it inside this NUC, as we will show later. 


Intel NUC 11 Extreme Review - Ultra-Compact High-End Gaming  
For yet another comparison, we have sat Intel's NUC 11 Extreme beside a standard PlayStation 4 console. As you can see, Intel's NUC 11 Extreme is just as deep as Sony's console, much shorter and about two times as wide. If you lie your PlayStation 4 flat, Intel's NUC 11 Extreme will take up less desk/unit space. 

Remember that modern systems like Sony's PlayStation 5 are much taller than fatter than a standard PlayStation 4, a factor that should make Intel's NUC 11 Extreme seem very impressive from a compute standpoint. This NUC 11 Extreme features Intel's 8-core I9-11900K processor and can support graphics cards that are more performant than a PlayStation 5's GPU within a smaller form factor. Not a bad showing from Intel's NUC. 
 

Intel NUC 11 Extreme Review - Ultra-Compact High-End Gaming  
While Intel's NUC 11 Extreme is small, it is not tiny. Systems like Nintendo Switch, even while docked, will make Intel's NUC 11 Extreme seem massive by comparison. That said, this NUC's size is dictated by its GPU support, and full-sized GPUs are already larger and wider than Nintendo's Switch system. 

Intel NUC 11 Extreme Review - Ultra-Compact High-End Gaming  

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